Who Gets to Rank News?

Who Gets to Rank News?

Anusha, 15, was found to have burns over 60% of her body. The teenager was brutally murdered by her parents for eyeing a boy. The news about this gruesome incident quickly started swarming the domestic and international media. Eventually it made it to the headlines of many international news channels. Once again Pakistan was given a fair share of international media attention by highlighting the most horrific act of the day.

Pakistan-held Kashmir is probably one of the most peaceful and serene areas of our country. The people are friendly and progressive. I have come across Kashmiri women who come to other provinces for higher education and I know people who are working for the betterment of this hill stations. Crime rate in Pakistan-held Kashmir is minimal. My teenage sister and her friends recently came back from their school trip to the north. It indeed is a piece of heaven on Earth.

But who cares how beautiful the land is and how progressive its inhabitants are when they now only remember it as a place where a mother would kill her own daughter. The credit goes to a weeklong dedication of international media to portraying a pure satanic picture of Kashmir’s lush green mountains and crystal clear water streams. I am not saying we should put a veil on our crimes and oppress the matters. I personally condemn the horrible act and I would keep raising my voice until the culprits are given exemplary punishments. I can do that, because I am a Pakistani and it hurts to see my people indulge in barbaric crimes. But the international media has a much more serious responsibility than recklessly embellishing their websites and screens with negative news pieces.

When Anusha was being punished for eyeing a lad, a 16-year-old girl was being raped by two men in central Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was going home from a costume-party when two strangers forced themselves on her. At the same time, Anthony Borrowdale, 56, admitted raping 88-year-old woman in South Yorkshire, England. These are the three crime news I know of, there would be plenty more. Now if you were to decide which one to highlight with a catchy title: what would be your gauge? Well, apparently it is very simple. Highlight the one from Pakistan! Perhaps, that is the most convenient scale been used by a few world-class news agencies, and of course, the remaining just follow the trend.

Just ask yourself a few questions.


  1. How can you calculate the intensity of gruesomeness between parallel murder cases?


  1. How can you rank one murder as TOP NEWS and another as a routine incident?


  1. Who distinguishes between international news and a domestic matter?

Hint: Just type “Pakistan” on the search bar of BBC or CNN websites and decide for yourself whether the international media is biased or not.


I condemn all the criminal activities that take place around the globe, be it human-trafficking, slavery, smuggling, child abuse or barbarianism. I might condemn one more than the other because I am a human and the intensity of my emotions is directly based on my life experiences. I am allowed to cry a little more on my brother’s sports injury than on my cat’s kidney disease. But I am not an international platform where gazillion minds are creating perceptions based on the number of tears I shed. We need to understand our capacity and power.

To me it seems like a media war against Pakistan. One slip and the entire world would gather to spit on you, enter the Guinness Book of World Records and someone else would outshine you.

We are a country with difficult neighbors. We have our stepsister on one side and a divorced wife on the other. We still stand together and we still strive to struggle. People from outside Pakistan need to know the real picture. We are a nation that has fought its wars and is now fighting more wars to keep the rest of the world secure. The least we deserve is the international media to play a fair game. It is my plea to all the journalists and intellects around the globe to reflect upon their judgments of selecting a news piece and then ranking it.

Bushra Zia

A Lahore School of Economics graduate & the editor of a monthly Travel Magazine published by the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab

  • Uqaab

    Well Bushra, it’s not only the international media, our very own national media does the same and that’s what we need to question more. I understand the need to expose the dark side of the society for the purpose of curing it but our media sensationalize more and inform less. We need to highlight good news as well and with the current gloomy state of affairs it becomes even more important just to keep the hopes alive. The good news might not get the same hits/clicks/comments but that’s where media needs to set its priorities in order. At the moment it surely is failing big time.

  • S Nasrullah

    The refrain in the “Clash of Civilizations” by Huntington, coupled with popular perceptions of Armageddon have unabashedly set pointers on “Anti-Christ” forces – prominent among them are the 2.0 Billion Muslims of the World. The tried and tested propaganda techniques that Hitler Era stage managed to stir up German Nationalism, is once again back in business to smear, to stigmatize and to slander Muslims across the globe to put them on the defensive and play on the back foot. The Afghan Mujahideen who fought valiantly to defeat Russian invasion were CIA favorites who supported them every way to fortify them with funds and firearms; and the moment the victory was achieved, the glorified Mujahideen were turned Fanatics and Terrorists overnight. Call a dog by a bad name, ONLY to hang him.

    Bushra Zia has intelligently embroidered her arguments with logic and hard facts. The three questions she wanted everyone to ponder and participate summarize the element of prejudice that permeates the Journalistic Mission of fact finding endeavors. A crime of the magnitude of murder can never be condoned, but a murder of Anusha should hit the headlines at the expense of other such gruesome crimes elsewhere is surely a journalistic dishonesty. In a highly civilized country, we have one father who held his own daughter hostage in a cell of his house and fathered few kids from his own daughter. Incense, licentious and morbid to the extreme – such horrifying crimes pale into insignificance the crime of an ultra conservative and demented mother prosecuting her daughter for an apparent blemish of amoral association. We are not sitting judgment on the motives and the manners of irrational behaviors of people. We need to evolve fair and honest standards of reporting where criminals are blighted for their wrong doings without their religious and national affinities.

  • Nasir

    Nice, perfect example of biasedness of international media specially from a ‘woman journalist’ of Pakistan showing the true picture for highlighting ONLY the Pakistan evil news regarding woman. Request to other women, don’t be naive to entangled yourself into the trap of international hype.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t you have anything positive and constructive in your mind to write about apart from affairs,murders and rapes?

  • Bilal

    Nice article, I agree with whatever writer mentioned in the
    above article but here I also ask the question from Pakistani Media. Are they
    doing the job to represent softer image of Pakistan. Whenever I see so called
    top “Pakistani” News Channels, they only highlight bad things.
    Flashing news will come if something goes wrong but no one mention or remember
    something good.

    I guess first Pakistani media should become Pakistani, supporting Pakistani
    cause and then start pointing fingers at other countries media. Just an
    example, can anyone tell me when they last heard a bad news about India on our
    media, other than typical filmi masala or coming attractions of bollywood

  • azeem abbas

    Nice Article! Its true..


    The fact that — “When Anusha was being punished for eyeing a lad, a 16-year-old girl was
    being raped by two men in central Belfast, Northern Ireland — hopefully soothes your pain and wipes out your streaming tears — my dear Bushra Zia.

    In fact whenever you feel bad about yourself or ashamed about your country – Bushra Zia — find out someone around you — or in some 5000 miles far away places — someone even in worse shape than you — and it will immediately calm you down and who knows may even make you happy.

    • Anonymous

      NASAH Sb

      Unfair comment – Surely the negative element the author points to, gets the hype to a point where the whole country is labeled acid throwing, raping, honour killing bombers thanks to the news presentations everywhere. Not many ponder that if thiswas the case, population there would probably have reduced by about a half by now!

      • NASAH (USA)

        Qalim sb

        The writer can always shrug her shoulder — so what — if 60% of a Pakistani girl’s face was burnt by an acid attack — no big deal — you can’t criticize the system, the community, the culture and the country JUST for this heinous CRIME — BECAUSE at the same TIME an Irish girl was being raped by two men in Ireland — did you know that?
        So go criticize Ireland and leave MY Pakistan alone.
        This is called sweeping the country’s trash under the carpet of puerile patriotism and negative nationalism.
        It warms the heart wipes the tears sedates the conscience for a good night sleep — to forget everything in the morning.
        And this is exactly why Pakistan is in such a mess.

    • Bushra

      It is not just about one person/incident. Can you do the honor of telling us who gets to rank the news? How can you say a shoot-down in Pakistan is more of a news than a rape in England?

  • Ahmed

    who is in pakistan to give real justices to innocent grils.Her shaek pe oweloo betahai anjame gulista ka hoiga.

  • ahmed zeeshan

    Awesomelly written article,

    You made my day…


  • Farooq Hashmi

    So Miss Bushra”Zia”,( Praise the Lord! the very name “Zia”purifies one’s soul of the “heretic” and un-Islamic belief in progressivism )you are whimpering because the international media have gone an extra mile in covering a filicide incident in the ” Pakistan-held “kashmir. Oh, poor soul Miss “Zia”! I love your naivete. However,your simple-mindedness has blurred your vision to see the blessing in disguise in the murder of the sixteen-year old “pervert” highland girl who was caught making eyes at a boy.She deserved “death punishment” for her “non-atonable sin “and her parents meted it out to her without demur. Zia’s ideological posterity,the Taliban and the “piety-incarnate” maulanas are “struggling” hard______ through suicidal bomb-blasts and target-killings_____to cast the Pakistani people into the mold of the “Talibanic Islam”____the “true” Islam. Since the acquisition of the modern Western education is a “sinful act” in the “Taliban’s brand of Islam,it is strictly forbidden to boys in general, and girls in particular.The “true lovers of Islam”, the Taliban “deserve kudos” for the large-scale destruction of the girls’ schools____hot-beds of “immorality”_____in Swat valley during the period it was under their sway.Again, thirteen-year old, Malala Yousufzai had conspired with BBC to reveal the Taliban’s ” Islamic ” deeds of butchering innocent “un-Islamic” human-beings,destroying the bastions of “immorality”,girls’schools and keeping women at ” sub-human level where they belong”. As Malala had “incriminated” herself,the Taliban’s attempt on her life is “justified”.They “won the whole world’s heart” through their ” heroic deed ” of shooting the thirteen-year old “monstrous satanic girl ” who had played a “villain’s role” of counteracting the Taliban’s plan of “ushering in a Renaissance of Islam ” in its Talibanic form. When the old cock crows,the young cock learns. The afore-mentioned parents fit well into that dictum.The ” astronomically-moral and honor-conscious” mountaineer parents who killed their own ” abysmally-immoral ” sixteen-year old girl for casting her amorous glances at a boy, are a microcosm of the Taliban.They killed their daughter to give a boost to the Talibanic spirit. Miss Zia,you ought to “eulogize them” as the “Talibanic heroes” in stead of condemning them as the barbaric parents,devoid of the instinctive parental affection. Bravo! the highland parents.